You Tell Us: Does a High-Mass Bass Bridge Really Make a Difference?

As you can see from the video above, Fender RSD has developed a new high-mass bass bridge for 2013.

Many players who have been shopping with BBG a while know all about high-mass bridges and have been using them for some time.

What we want to know is this:

With your use of a high-mass bridge (such as the Omega or Kickass), did it really make a difference? And if so, how?

Did your tone change?

Did your note decay rate (as in sustain) improve or get worse?

Did switching over to high-mass make you have to switch string type/gauge?

Let us know of your experiences with the high-mass bass bridge, both the good and the bad (if any). Post a comment or two.

39 thoughts on “You Tell Us: Does a High-Mass Bass Bridge Really Make a Difference?

  1. I put a cheap $20 hi-mass bridge I got from on my fender P-bass (as you all know, the stock bridge is simplistic as can be and may corrode over time). Immediately I noticed that while clarity was not compromised at all, sustain was improved tenfold. I have more sustain than I could ever need–every note has a clear, long-lasting ring. I didn’t change type at all according to bridge type (though my preferences changed over time). Furthermore, it’s more attractive than the stock bridge…more manly, if you will.
    Other than that, not much of a difference. It’s just aesthetic and sustain.

      • In their economy section there are some bridges that appear to resemble high-mass bridges. No telling what they are made of, however, so caveat emptor.

        • I have been designing and testing replacement bridges for a variety of basses, but in particular for my 1983 Fender P bass. The original is functional, but my latest designs are more responsive across the frequency spectrum, and have superior sustain as measured in terms of overall sustain of a single note and as measured in terms of sustain at near peak volume response. They look better, too. I’ll be posting the actual data, as illustrated in example frequency curves of identical notes played on the same instrument with the same stretched strings, and in graphic depictions of the overall data set (yes, I have worked with the scientific method for s long time). I’ll also be test marketing these bridge, and nut, designs, with full guarantees for workmanship and design. All instrument components are hand machined and assembled using only the highest quality certified materials in Wisconsin, USA.

  2. Hmmm….my G&L basses have always had much more mass than Fenders. With the saddles that lock together, each string actually shares the mass of the entire bridge. My G&Ls have been active ones and most of my Fenders have been passive, so that’s like trying to compare apples to oranges. My active Jazz has a stock, traditional Fender bridge and a J-Retro pre-amp and the sustain and tone is superb, so my jury is still out on whether a higher-mass bridge, in and off itself, is a true improvement on tone and sustain.
    I’m currently building a Warmoth P/J bass with Fralin pups and U-Retro pre-amp I bought fro you. It will also have a high mass Schaller 463 bridge. Swamp Ash body, Maple/Rosewood neck. I’ll get back here with a tone/sustain review when it’s done.

  3. I’ve tried Fender High Mass, Hipshot and Bad Ass2. I get a richer tone with greater sustain. If they don’t come with them, I put them on.

  4. I put a Kahler 7450 bridge on a cheap Fernandes bass and it practically made it a whole new instrument. A better feel due to the adjustable string spacing, and the increase in sustain was more than I was expecting. Probably the best hardware upgrade I’ve ever made, but it was a b!tch to put that thing on– not a task I would recommend for the faint of heart, especially if you have a nice bass (I wouldn’t have risked it on my Fenders), have a pro do it.

  5. If you need more sustain the higher mass, the better. I play hard, and my biggest problem is the saddles moving. It’s the best, most cost effective tone upgrade you can make.

  6. I put Leo Quan Badass bridges on all of my Fenders before I even take them to a rehearsal. Improved attack and lengthens sustain.

  7. I have a Gotoh and Badass II high-mass bridges on my 85 MIJ Ibanez Roadstar IIs RB 630 and RB 650 and find attack, sustain, and intonation are improved. Aesthetically the basses look much better as well. I agree with the earlier post that the immobility of the saddles make the cost worthwhile as I have a heavy right hand.

  8. Have several Badass II’s on Fender basses, and several of the now forgotten Schaller roller bridge model. I find they do improve sustain over stock. But I left my Vintage Reissue P Bass with the vintage bridge just for that reason – vintage “thump”!

  9. I’m happy with the tone and added sustain of the Leo Quan BA-II. Recently purchased a Babicz but haven’t installed it yet

  10. I have always found that higher mass bridges are always better as far as tone and articulation .I my first bass was a Ric 4000 single pick up and the rick bridge has always been a key to the sound . my second mainstay was a fender jazz and I quickly got a Badass 1 bridge installed ( with a lot of routing) .If anyone has a question about high mass check out an alembic the bridge sits on a tone block of solid brass and the sustain in conjunction with the brass nut gives un-ending sustain I rest my case.

  11. I put a Badass bridge on my 75 P Bass in 1983. I have used upgrade bridges ever since. I would be interested to see a a scientific explanation of the difference. I like the Gotoh with locking saddles and adjustable string spacing for ease of set up. But they are hard to find!

  12. I have an ATS Transmission bridge on my 71 Jazz bass and the note clarity and sustain are amazing! This bridge weighs 10 oz. vs. around 3 oz. for the stock bridge. The weight penalty is well worth it for me (the bass still weighs only 8 lb.) Pic:

    • Hi I just seen you Post while fitting up my JB with a ETS trans bridge and wondering how far back I have to set it to be able to do the intonation .Can you please tell me how you went about it filling and re-drilling holes etc Thanks

  13. I put a Badass bridge on a bass years ago, and I’d never use one again. I have Schaller bridges on several basses, Hipshots on others, and I’m about to try the new design Gotoh. I am very happy with the sound and feel of the high-mass bridges. And the look. Aesthetics are legitimate reason for me to swap out bridges, but there’s more to it than that.

    I hate stock Fender bridges, at least the old design cheap ones. Specifically, I hate the idea of spending a lot of money on a bass that has quality well-designed parts, and a bridge that looks like an afterthought. So for me there’s a psychological aspect as well for replacing a cheap bridge with a high-mass bridge.

  14. I put a BadAss II on my ’70 Jazz in the mid-80’s. I thought the sound really improved. More sustain. Twenty years later I went back to an original basic Fender bridge and thought that it improved even more dramatically, more definition and clarity…..

    I prefer the appearance of traditional Fender bridges to any of the high-mass units.

  15. Personally, I don’t get the Badass love. The first bridge swap I ever did was for a Badass, and I wouldn’t do it again. There are too many other better designs. I now have Schallers on several basses, Hipshots on a couple others, and I’m about to try the new-design Gotoh on a new build.

    I like having the high mass bridges. They give me the comfort of knowing I’m not compromising sustain. They also look better, which IMO is a legitimate reason to want to change. One reason I change bridges is I hate the idea of having a bass with significant money invested and quality parts all around, but with a cheap bridge that looks like an afterthought.

  16. I think the high bass bridges are just different. I’ve had both on P and J basses. The low bass and sustain is better with a high mass bridge, but I think the tone color, especially midrange harmonics is much more interesting with a stock Fender bridge. Depends on what you need, I guess.

  17. Hear hear for hi-mass! I have been a fan ever since putting a BAII on a P-bass, back in the 80’s. LOVE the sustain and thump. In fact, I would even say that hi-mass bridges ought to be de riguer mods for certain basses (the Squier VM Jaguar actually lost its’ tendency to neck-dive, when I installed one of those $20 budget bridges; still kept the instrument south of $300).

    I’m a dedicated G&L JB-2 guy, and bridge design does not get any better than the Saddle-lock. I’m intrigued by the new 5-string offerings from Squier, and am already researching hi-mass bridge options.

  18. Some changes are there. Going from a factory Fender Aluminum low mass bridge to a high mass bridge definitely changes the dynamic feel of the instrument. String/Note Decay is far less with high mass, where as decay rate is faster with Aluminum. I believe this is a metallurgy aspect on density and mass. Something about a brass nut, and brass machined bridge just seem to increase the sustain on a bolt on instrument.

    I would think neck through construction, brass nut, and brass bridge would be about as much as you could expect from long rate of note decay.

    I think Fender instruments are unique for their low mass hardware and bolt on approach to the neck joining the body. Overall it makes for a punchier instrument which the J and P’s have always feel like naturally. Don’t know if I agree always with changing perfectly good hardware, but a Leo Quan Bridge has been the go to choice for alot of Fender players for many years.

    I would think neck through construction, brass nut, and brass bridge would be about as much as you could expect from long rate of note decay.

  19. have the RSD hi mass on a new fender select p- the sustain is definately good,clear ,long, I has TI’s on there(jazz i think) and those are really flexy anyway, but ,no mess no rattles

  20. I believe material plays into it as well- a die cast pot metal bridge is going to sound less defined, Aluminum will hit fast with alot of color, but dies quicker, Brass is a time tested sure fire dynamic regulator, and enough of it will change the sound of any instrument-/ steel, tungsten, titanium?? Expensive, but surely worth it to those who invest.

  21. No doubt about it… Hi Mass bridges add sustain and balls to a fender bass. I put one in an old Fender Bronco Bass (3/4 Scale Mustang type) along with a DiMazzio Pickup and wow – mini-P with a fast neck and balls! It also allows a little slacker string tensions, whicjh is the issue on 3/4 scales – still wanna slap em – not to tight. The wish list is a HiMass Bridge and something on the order of P-Pickups or Quarter pounders for the 3/4 scale Made in Japan Mustang re-issue Bass… That one sounds fine in the studio, but strung a little tight and a little thin sounding for stage. Hope springs eternal 🙂

  22. Put a badass 2 on my Matt freeman squire and I think it sounds better but I also swaped out the pickup and electronics for a Aguilar pbass pickup and a john East p-retro at the same time. It definitely sustains better.

  23. I used to work in a music shop and didn’t change a Fender bass bridge myself. However, our guitar tech who has replaced dozens of bridges, as well as dozens of happy customers, claim that the sound of a brass bridge is better. Obviously, different materials (metals) let through different frequencies/vibrations. Just as the wood of the guitar makes a difference in tonal quality, so will the steel used.

  24. I have an OLP bass which is slowly being modified. I recently replaced the lightweight original bridge with an original Badass bridge. The sustain didn’t change but the tone was a bit warmer and the feel was a bit more substantial. The bass did, however, lose a zing (for want of a better word! ) in the top end. I changed back to the original bridge and the zing returned! I have decided to keep the old bridge on this bass because of this. I have other basses for other sounds which have high mass bridges and sound great. I find it depends on the bass and the sound and/or feel you are looking for.

  25. If A high mass bridge increases sustain, clarity, etc then why not always buy a bridge that can you can string through your basses body? A body has a great deal more mass.

  26. Most bass playing does not require extreme sustain; the old-school studio electric bassists would often put some foam rubber under the strings to reduce sustain. My Squier VM PJ has already got all the sustain I need. I don’t need the extremes of my Les Paul; speaking of which, there was a trend in the 80’s for massive brass bridges and even brass nuts on guitars. This is no longer popular; perhaps guitar players are now seeking a more woody resonant sound.

  27. In order of greatest to least, here are the modifications that will have the greatest effect on your tone and sound.

    Strings – Nothing changes the entire color of the guitar as quickly and simply.
    Pickup – Like choosing the neighborhood where you’ll live.
    Pots – 250k CTS pots can change your guitar’s life.
    Bridge – Sustain and attack see the greatest change.
    Nut – Proper setup is key. Try all the others before you change nuts.

    It definitely depends on what you’re going for. The stock Fender door-hinge bridge gets little love, but It defines the Fender sound. It must be doing something right if they keep sending it out the door all these years.

    If you’re wanting more modern sounds from your bass, the hi-mass can make a difference but not without cost. You’ll lose that “thuddy” vintage thump that won’t come back even with muting, but likely you’re wanting something different anyway.

    I have two basses – a Guild B-401 for modern sounds, and a Classic Vibe Squier P I’ve modded to make it more vintage. I went BACK to the door-hinge bridge, along with half-flats, a hand-wound Dominger pickup, full CTS 250k pots, (even though it already had stock 250k pots,) and a red tortoise pickguard that looks very 60’s. I WANT to thump and growl, without loads of sustain and boom. It is a different experience a modern guitar cannot equal.

    Know what you’re wanting before making any mod. May the tone be with you.

  28. The saddle for the D string on my MIM Fender Precision works it’s way down when using slap/pluck technique to the point that string height is too low.
    Looking for a solution that doesn’t change the great Fender Precision sound but that can withstand the vibrations without the saddle working it’s way to low.

    • Put Loctite on the threads of the height adj screws. I’ve had the same prob. Won’t stop the screws from being adjusted but will keep them from working their way out.

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